Monthly Archives: December 2014

Vegetarian? Vegan? Macro?

I made my post Christmas pilgrimage to Barnes and Noble a couple of days ago.  It’s a “pilgrimage,” because I enjoy the blessing of having raised a family of avid readers.  So, there’s no shortage of books in our home, and no shortage of enthusiasm for visiting bookstores.  Indeed, aren’t bookstores the real reason for shopping?

The object of my quest was to find a book that was a combination of personal journal/explanation/how to concerning making the change to a vegetarian, vegan, or macrobiotic diet.  The thought of making this change has been rattling around in the back of my head for some time now, and I wanted to read more than Wikipedia had to say about this.  I’m not exactly as svelte as I was in my 20’s, and realized that most likely I’ll never get there again.  But I’ve talked to people who have done this, and they seem happy that they made the change.  Those whom I’ve talked to feel better, report health benefits, and seem to be able to eat all they want within the range of their food philosophy.

I wanted to find the story of someone who “waded in the shallow end” of this journey and didn’t try to do it all at once — someone who would make me think that this might possibly be achievable for someone who includes friends and loved ones in their eating habits.  I also felt like I needed to be “sold” on the why of doing this, and read the words of someone who enjoyed and benefitted from making such monumental changes.

Alas, I found no such book!  I didn’t look at the books that were mostly scientific information– I’m just not going to read that.  The science seems pretty sound from what I’ve read — at least it’s more on the side of a plant based diet than what I’m eating now.   However, it just cannot be that there has never been anyone in the history of mankind who considered attempting this change one meal at a time.  I’m astonished that there is no one in the history of the planet who contemplated taking baby steps toward this.  The books I found were either straight-out cookbooks that assumed that I was sold on their particular philosophy, or “how-to” books.  Of the two varieties, the how-to books started out with advice such as “take everything out of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, and throw it in the garbage.”  No consideration whatsoever that person who may attempt to follow such advice may be married to a spouse who would advise reasonable, prudent steps toward a better diet, or more like exclaim, “you’re throwing hundreds of dollars of food into the garbage!”  No advice given on how to win over a skeptical spouse whose wisdom has been nothing short of life-saving.

So, my quest was halted in frustration.  However, I’m sure that there is at least one person in the history of the planet who has been in the circumstances described earlier who has written a book about their experience that’s worth reading.

I’d love to hear from you!  If you have researched transitioning to vegetarian, vegan, or macro and found a helpful book that is makes it sound fun encouraging, and achievable, let me know!

 

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Feeling Rebellious! In A Good Way!

Wow!  It feels quite rebellious to take a 2 hour nap AND run 7 miles AND spend extra time writing all in one day.  Not quite sure how I managed to do all of that !  Rebellious?  Doesn’t exactly sound like the word most people would use.  However, I’m not used to taking that much time to focus on what I want to do.  My wife and I lead a nonprofit educational organization, which is pretty much like running a family business.  My sister lives with us, who is disabled and needs some help with daily living tasks.  And two of our children are home from college.  So, it did feel rather delightfully rebellious and irresponsible!

The 7 miles is the longest run I’ve gone on in about a month or more.  Lately, with the holiday weight gain, it’s been a struggle just to get out and shuffle 4 miles or so.  But today, the miles just clicked off!  It was a beautiful day, temps in the mid 60’s, with a northeast breeze about 10-15 mph.  Started out south on the beach and headed back into the wind — but on the road.  Felt great physically and made me remember why I continue to persevere in this activity.

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Do What You Can With the Body You Have!

I posted yesterday on how I’m in doubt about plans for future ultra events.  However, there’s another take on this subject, or for that matter, any other physical challenge.  This attitude is, “do what you can with the body you have!”

Now, this attitude is not original with me.  I read this somewhere, and I can’t remember where.  But it makes sense.  Rather than trying to diet, slim down, and get into “better condition,” whatever that may mean, do what you can now.  And push yourself to do more.

The idea here is that physical perfection is probably beyond most of us,  So we use this mythical ideal to hold us back, rather than enjoy what we can.  So, do what you can with the body you have !  And enjoy yourself!

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Why blog?

Why blog?  This is a question that I’ve been asking myself for the last couple of years.  If you follow this blog, you find out that the usual answer is, “there’s no reason to.”  And for the past several years, I’ve managed to marshal some reasons not to blog that sound like good arguments.

I don’t have anything to say.  In other words, there’s nothing that hasn’t already been said.  Now, this form of thinking is one to which I am prone.  What I’ve discovered, however, is that there are new ways of saying what has been said, and new audiences who are looking for a fresh take.

I’m not that interesting.  Blogging is a good way to become interesting.  It’s good to have a driving force that will push me to be more engaging, develop new interests, and to pursue the interests that I have more wholeheartedly.

I’m not a narcissist.  While there is more than enough shallow, self-centered banality that sounds narcissistic, it doesn’t follow that anyone who wants to put their thoughts in public is a narcissist.  There are writers whom I read who stimulate me, challenge me, and edify me.  These are results that don’t come from navel-gazing narcissists.

I don’t write that well.  My self-evaluation of my writing has deterred me from sharing most of my writing with anyone.  But the opposing point of view says, “how am I going to improve?”  The path to improvement is regular writing, revising, and sharing what I write.

I don’t care about being famous.  There are bloggers whose readerships is in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands.  Developing an audience and bringing dependable content to that audience sounds like pressure.  But building an audience is not easy.  It takes effort.  At this point, I’m writing as if I have an audience, but I’m far from being famous.

I’d rather teach than write.  Fair enough.  But won’t writing and editing and revising make me a better teacher?

I’d rather while away the hours in unproductive pursuits.  This is the honest truth.  But it’s one that I want to change.

What keeps you from blogging?  Why do you blog?  What motivates you to keep sharing and publishing content?  I’d love to hear from you!

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Ultra Running and Future Plans

I’ve put December 31 as the day to decide on which ultras to enter for 2015.  I wish it were so easy.  But in reality, I’ll decide later than that.

I really enjoy the sport.  I see each event as a day away from the cares of normal life.  Each event is a new adventure.  The course, the other participants, the travel, the atmosphere, battling fatigue, and pushing myself to new limits all make for an epic challenge.  However, I’m taking some medications that have the unpleasant side effect of weight gain.  So, I’m almost at my peak in terms of weight.  What this does is that it presents the spectacle of a 230 lb. man trying to run 30-plus miles.  Plus, the downside of each event is what it takes away mentally, physically, and emotionally for days to come.  I’m not sure I have those reserves to draw on.

While nearly every day I look at ultrasignup, I’m postponing any decision making until I get healthier and I can train consistently.

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About Changing the Script

     I read an article a couple of weeks about changing one’s internal script with writing.  It was one of those self-help things that you read and say “meh”.  However, on greater reflection it’s been surprising helpful in thinking ahed toward 2015.  The idea that stuck with me is that through reading, reflection, and writing, It’s possible to change a person’s inner thinking, and as a consequence, change their story.  It’s possible to bring the best out of yourself instead of scraping through every day unthinkingly.
     This year’s 500 word challenge turned out to be a trial run at this.  While I didn’t follow through with it for the rest of the year after the 31 days, there was something powerful about it that began to change my internal script; that is, the instinctive and reflexive governing of my life that is so influential, and often so self-limiting.
     “Change the Script” is a powerful imperative, like “Take Permission”, my theme for 2014.  While I still need to follow through with the Take Permission imperative, something deeper needs to change within me to generate the boldness to Take Permission.  That’s where Change the Script comes in.
     To begin with, there are a couple of ways I want to work toward Changing the Script:
     Internally:   I want to generate optimism, positivity, and encouragement instead of cynicism and negativity.  My default script tends to be cynical, sarcastic, negative, and a sense of smarminess that “I know better”.  I find this repulsive when I see it in others but tolerate and advance it in myself.
     Move forward to initiate new habits:  I can take charge of myself.  I can initiate change with others, I can work to lead those within my sphere of influence to a preferable future.  While my sister tells me I’m “regimented,” this regimentation can be positively used to work toward being willing to experiment, to try new things, to take risks.
     What are you thinking in terms of changing your script?  I’d love to hear about your thoughts and plans!

Theme for 2015

2015 Annual Theme: “Change the Script!” It seems that I’ve built a life script of making excuses instead of working to bring out the best in me and those around me. In order to begin to bring out the best in me and in others, the script that plays in my head, I need to change the script that “writes” my life. Instead of striving to achieve a breadth of goals a mile wide and an inch deep, I choose to focus on areas that bring the greatest joy, satisfaction and return on investment.

Have you developed an annual theme that captures your desires in coming year?  I would love to hear from you!

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2015 Annual Plan

2015 Annual Plan

Last week, I shared my 2014 annual review.  Putting forth what I learned in 2014, here is my annual plan for 2015:

Long term desires:

  • Keep current work and life situation.
  • Initiate more in relationships – network in areas of commonality.
  • Become more self-aware and take better preventative measures to maintain good mental health.
  • Continue to educate myself and develop my craft.
  • Travel more
  • Family vacation
  • New York City at least once.
  • Weekend away with my wife.
  • Running goals
  • Ultras
  • Overall fitness – strength, stretching,

 

How to structure to move forward: Minimalize. Essentialize. Throw out about 90% of old key result areas.

Moving forward:

 

Disciple:

  • Live a more consistent Christian life
  • Devote myself more to prayer
  • Incorporate more books and audio to enrich my soul
  • Work harder at going from Biblical insights to application
  • Become more self -aware and take better preventative measures to maintain good mental health.
  • Initiate more in relationships – network in areas of commonality.
  • Be more conscious of the preciousness of time and act accordingly
  • Cut about 90 percent of the to do list
  • Do things that matter as opposed to spending large amounts of time in what amounts to trivia

 

 

Husband/Father:

  • Initiate more communication and planning with my wife
  • Continue to live within our means.
  • Continue to slightly accelerate paying on house
  • Rebudget in light of income changes– how much to keep contributing to in retirement vs. current expenses and short- term savings.
  • Initiate more and work harder to keep and improve relational ties among children.
  • Reduce book inventory in garage by 90% — go through one box a week – keep, sell, give, toss.
  • Initiate working together with my wife on more projects.

Teacher/Ministry Partner:

  • Continue to focus on the joy and excitement of my calling and its resounding affirmation.
  • Actively seek out ways to get better at my craft.
  • Love my students, my texts, my coworkers, and my parents well.

 

Pastor:

  • Keep focus on teaching, administrating, and prayer.
  • Keep focus on supporting our lead pastor and the session.
  • Work more on “on the spot” shepherding.

 

Athlete:

  • Goals were too ambitious last year (I did enter 4 races and finished two, rather than entering 5 and finishing 5). Decide on some events and do those only.
  • Rediscover the wonder and enjoyment of endurance sports.
  • Work on maintaining and enhancing overall fitness. Maintain an average of 5 times a week of cardio exercise.

 

 

Scholar/Writer:

  • Look into how to move into writing for an audience from zero to some.
  • Develop another reading plan to unfollow. Or look at old ones. Push toward 50 books per year.
  • Continue to seek to maximize time through reading and audio.
  • Expose myself to a steadier diet of positive authors and speakers who can speak into my life.
  • Develop writing skills.
  • Develop audience

 

Note: Just about all of these are process-oriented rather than SMART goals. As I move ahead in the year, I will need to tweak current processes and put new ones in place as occasions arise to move from vision into action.

Looking ahead, what are your desires for 2015?  How do you plan for a new year?  I’d love to hear from you!

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2014 Annual Review

2014 Summary: For my wife and I, this was a year of many transitions. My wife’s beloved grandmother, who loved me like one of her own sons, was called home to glory this past summer at 96 years old.  Our oldest son got married in the summer, and our youngest son went off to college, leaving us as empty nesters. To “prepare us for this,” our daughter studied abroad in Great Britain.  My sister moved in with us as she needed more care later in the summer. I started to transition into a larger pastoral role in our church. Then it became apparent that the “puzzle” of my own desires, God’s call, our family’s interests, our educational nonprofit, and church fit together better with me in a smaller role in the church and a larger role at our nonprofit. In the aftermath of all these things, I experienced a significant episode of depression required medical care and a break from church responsibilities. So, there were a number of goal set for 2014 that were not achieved. A result of this is a re-evaluation of goal-setting and annual planning for 2015.

2014: What went well?

  • Completed 1 100 K run (Iron Horse, February, 19:18)
  • Completed 1 12 hour race (Azalea, November, 40 miles)
  • Completed 46 Books (7 more than in 2013):
  • Preached 20 times at our church
  • Taught a summer class at our church
  • Taught full time for 2013-14
  • Taught a seminar for our Tutor Training, “Teaching Like Jesus”
  • Taught half-time for the Fall of 2014, moving up to ¾ time in second semester 0f 2014-15.
  • Our nonprofit remained self-sufficient and was in the black. My wife continues to do an incredible job managing it.
  • We were able to go as a family to our oldest son’s college graduation in New York, along with Mom.
  • Went to Colorado for our oldest son’s wedding. My wife, with much help from our extended family and our in-laws, put on a rehearsal dinner for the happy coupe that was a smashing success. We acquired a daughter in law who is a great blessing to our son.
  • Our oldest son found full-time, professional employment and loves his job.
  • Our family was also able to go on vacation in Orlando
  • My wife, youngest son, and I attended a Teacher’s Conference in Orlando
  • I was able to obtain better medical care as a result of some health issues
  • We stayed out of debt and were able to live within our means.
  • We upped contributions to retirement by ten times our monthly while not going into debt. This may not be sustainable but it feels great to be overachieve this much on one of my goals.
  • My health has improved with blood pressure and cholesterol being managed well.
  • We went through a trial period at the church of me taking on many of our lead pastor’s responsibilities and our lead pastor cutting back. With the elders, we determined not to press forward with this arrangement. So my vocational situation is settled for the first time in a decade.
  • Our daughter continues to make progress toward college completion. She successfully completed study abroad, staying on track for four year graduation, and is looking at grad schools.
  • Our youngest has matriculated at college in New York City and has made a good adjustment.
  • I’m not having to work most evenings for the first time since we’ve started our educational nonprofit.

What didn’t go well?

  • Felt overextended with work, church responsibilities, and extended family.
  • My sister needed additional care because of the effects of cancer and moved in with us in September. Even while suffering greatly and losing much of her independence, she has been a blessing to us in many ways with her childlike faith, positive attitude, and joy in the midst of suffering.
  • My depressive episode in October/November was a big setback. However, it also brought about good medical care, counseling, and brought out the love of my family, our elders and church family.
  • Had as many DNFs in ultras (2) as I had finishes, but I learned a lot from both of them. Training was sporadic so this could have been expected.
  • My prayer and spiritual life was sporadic. Not what I would like.
  • It’s not that the trial period of assuming more responsibilities didn’t go well, but it became apparent that the “work/life” balance was unsustainable.

Bottom Line on evaluating 2014: In a year that felt like “failure,” there were an astounding number of successes. It’s important to keep “the big picture” in mind rather than to dwell on the negatives.

What went well with you in the past year?  What lessons did you learn?  I’d love to hear from you!

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I’m back! With A New Motivation!

Writing and sharing my writing has troubled me in the past because it seemed so self-serving.  In the midst of working to develop a more God-centered, others-seeking ethic, I couldn’t see where writing (at least to share with other readers) quite fit in.  But rather than a self-serving, self-seeking, me-centered activity that may potentially lead to more self-serving, self-seeking, me-centered opportunities, i’m beginning to see how this activity fits in to an other-seeking ethic.

True confession — I often find the voices inside my head more interesting than the thoughts of the people around me.  So often, I prefer to retreat into my interior world than to “be present” and actively listen and interact with others.  In doing so, I’m doing them a disservice.  I’d like to get some of these voices out of my head, and if for no other reason, to be truly present with I’m interacting with the people and love the people better who surround me rather than retreating into this interior world.

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